The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: MPs to Call Demos Over Poor Roads

Bukomansimbi MP Deogratius Kiyingi and his Bukoto East counterpart Florence Namayanja are mobilizing constituents to demonstrate over government's failure to tarmack the 48km Villa Maria - Bukomansimbi - Sembabule road and the 37Km Nyendo - Bukakata road.

The MPs reacted after several travelers got stranded at Bukalasa on the Villa Maria - Ssembabule road after a heavy downpour made the road impassable on Monday. They vowed to block the roads this week if there is no action from government. The roads have featured in the last five national budget speeches, with promises to tarmack them.

Works and Transport Minister Abraham Byandala said in August that government had got a $25m loan from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) to work on the Nyendo - Bukakata road. Commissioning the MV Pearl ferry in Bukakata, Byandala said works on the roads would start in the 2013/2014 financial year. However, State Minister John Byabagambi contradicted his senior and said works would commence in October, which has just ended.

Uganda National Roads Authority spokesperson Dan Alinange recently confirmed to the media that the funds had been secured and road designs were underway. Excited by the pronouncements Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja scribbled a note seeking clarification from Byandala who was due to make a ministerial statement in Parliament early last month.

But according to Namayanja, Byandala wrote back informing the legislator that the dream was far from being realized.

"The donors have not yet approved our application for funding," Namayanja quoted Byandala's chit.

Back in 2009 former Works Minister John Nasasira pledged that part of Shs 1.2 trillion set aside for road construction in the 2008/2009 budget was to be used for the construction of the Nyendo - Bukakata and the Villa Maria - Sembabule roads. The pledge never materialized.

NRM kiboko group:

As the legislators organize for the demonstration, NRM leaders in Masaka are also organizing a kiboko group to deal with any demonstrators. The district's NRM Chairman, Peter Ssenkungu, told journalists on Wednesday that the NRM group would not allow the MPs to go on with the demonstration, with or without Police permission.

The specific target seems to be the Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja.

"We shall beat her; we don't want her to disturb us. She should concentrate on the promises she made to voters rather than bothering herself with those of the President," Ssenkungu said.

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